Blackrock v St Finbarr's: Rockies looking to maintain defensive solidity

As well as having a high-scoring attack, Blackrock have only conceded two goals in five games ahead of Sunday's county final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Blackrock v St Finbarr's: Rockies looking to maintain defensive solidity

Mark O'Keeffe, Blackrock, clears from Billy Hennessy, St Finbarr's. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

LAST year, Blackrock’s defence of the Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier SHC came to an end with a 4-22 to 3-19 semi-final defeat to Midleton.

This time around, the Rockies have reached the final with just two goals conceded in the five games they have played. As they face into Sunday’s final against St Finbarr’s, selector Jamie Harrington believes that the tightening up is down to a strong collective effort.

“We spent a lot of time poring over that game,” he says.

“There were a lot of factors involved, including sickness. Structurally, we weren’t that sound either – two-on-two against players of that quality is hard to manage, especially with the forwards Midleton have.

For me, Cathal Cormack has been the best half-back in Cork this year and John Cashman has been phenomenal. 

"It also helps that they’re getting good cover from the guys in front of them – Mark O’Keeffe has moved to midfield and played the defensive role, which we never saw coming.

“He has helped and Dan Meaney has helped. Yes, the backs have been good but the forwards have to work as well and they have.”

Blackrock hurling selector Jamie Harrington. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Blackrock hurling selector Jamie Harrington. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Harrington, who managed the Rockies in 2009, served as a selector under Fergal Ryan in his first year in charge, 2016. When Ryan stepped down at the end of 2021, finding a replacement was a big task but in Clare native Louis Mulqueen they found someone who embraced the challenge.

“It’s not like we had massive success with Fergal – we had good success – but Louis never thought for one second that he couldn’t replicate it,” Harrington says.

“Anybody else have said, ‘They won it and they were beaten in a semi-final, is there a lot expected of me or are they on the way down?’

“He assumed we were going to keep going up and that’s the man you have. If he gets involved, it’s full commitment.”

The Rockies hope to have a clean bill of health for the final, having impressed in their semi-final win over Erin’s Own. Harrington feels that the quarter-final penalty shootout win against Imokilly stood to them.

“That’s the way it worked out,” he says, “but the four-week break went against Erin’s Own.

“People might say it wasn’t as difficult as the Imokilly game but we actually played much better against Erin’s Own.
“Our performance level was a lot higher – while we had done a lot of good things against Imokilly, we did a lot of dumb things, too.

“The Erin’s Own game went well, in lots of ways, so we were happy enough with that.”

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